Roger Williams students share vision to energize Bristol’s waterfront

Considered to be an underutilized resource within the town of Bristol, the waterfront, or more specifically, the former armory on the waterfront, could prove to be a boon for business and boaters alike if it were to be transformed into a municipal maritime center.

That theory was presented by Roger Williams University students, Macy Miller and Haley O’Callaghan to the town council last week.

As part of the community partnership between Bristol and Roger Williams University, the two students, along with classmates Kristin Belmore, Lauren Bombara, Mike Lefebvre and Andrew Tamblyn took an academic approach to a real-life situation. Over the semester, the group engaged town officials, conducted site visits and developed a preliminary marketing plan that could pay off as an economic driver.

The project objective was explained by Ms. Miller.

“We wanted to determine the feasibility of converting the historic Bristol armory to a municipal maritime center,” she said.

To be considered viable, the students needed to assess if the maritime center would be financially self-sustaining, promote economic growth for the town, and respect the historical architecture. Although considered at this point to be academic, all the students’ criteria were met in the phase one analysis plus arriving at the realization that the town was only utilizing 5 percent of its capacity with regard to transient boater capacity.

With the preliminary study complete, the plans will be developed further by students in the spring semester who will complete a harbor assets study, consider year-round options for the maritime center, and further develop the financial analysis of the project. In the coming months, phase two will include a community workshop, giving residents and boaters an opportunity to comment and provide input into such a project.

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